By BRIAN LESTER
Rather than play as if the game mattered, the University of Findlay women’s basketball team could have just given up on the season and lost again on Saturday.
Yet, the Oilers refused to throw in the towel in a home game against Tiffin despite having lost its last three games and struggling with consistency.
UF put together one of its best performances of the season, one of its most complete performances, and the result was an 81-59 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win over the Dragons at Croy Gymnasium.
The win preserves a sliver of hope for the Oilers in their quest to make the conference tournament. Yes, UF still has some work to do to make that happen, sitting in 10th in the standings. Only the top eight make the tournament in March.
But they are still in the hunt, and really, at this time of the year, that is all you can ask for. Winning the way the Oilers did Saturday certainly helps.
“It’s the most complete game we played all year,” UF head coach Jim Wiedie said. “This was the team I expected since day one. We performed well offensively and defensively, and our energy level was good. We were consistent the whole game.”
Way back in December, it all looked so good for the Oilers. They were 4-0 after the opening weekend of conference play, and they won both of those games on the road.
But they have won only five games since, struggling to be consistent and lacking the ability to bring their best effort for 40 minutes.
It was a different story against the Dragons, and it was good to see this team show a great deal of life after losing three consecutive games.
The key now is to keep it going. The Oilers have the talent to be a good team. They have the ability to contend for a spot in the tournament.
UF just needs to make the plays in the close games. Eight times this season, the Oilers have lost a game by less than 10 points. If even half of those games go the other way, we are talking about an 11-6 UF right now instead of a team that is 7-10.
But as I said. There is still time to right the ship. Still time to make a late-season push for a conference tournament bid. The first shot comes Thursday in a road game against defending NCAA Division II national champion Ashland.
“I really hope this is a game we can build on and understand how good we can be when we play like we did today,” Wiedie said. “We have a chance to do something if we keep playing this way.”
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